You know, given how much they sounded like Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers and The Violent Femmes sometimes -- two bands I don't particularly enjoy but intellectually appreciate -- it's a wonder that I liked Hefner so much.
The fact that they were British as oppposed to those other two bands probably helped.
And I associate first hearing Hefner, and reading about them, with the years 1999 and 2000 when I was finally able to hear John Peel live via streaming audio on the internet -- his weekday evening show soundtracked my afternoons here on the East Coast of the U.S. and A. in the cubicle hell of the time.
[The fact that I was working in the US office of a famous British company at the time made it even better for this Anglophile.]
For anyone who grew up buying as many import tapes and CDs as I did at Tower and Olsson's (D.C. chain), you grew aware of at least the name of John Peel.
I'm sure in England he was sometimes taken for granted.
But to hear him live with The Fall in session made this UK music fan extremely happy in a nerdy way.
His death was a terrible shock, of course.
As for Hefner, I saw them at the Black Cat in D.C. where the already small club was made even smaller when the front half of the club was curtained off, I recall, and Hefner played a blistering set on a tiny stage within an arm's reach.
Darren Hayman, who has since gone solo, was quite nice and approachable.
His passing resemblance to Noah Taylor from Flirting probably made me like him even more.
Hefner were like a band from Cherry Red records in the 1980s updated with better production and more commercial savvy.
Songs like "The Sweetness Lies Within" and "Pull Yourself Together" seemed like hits in my mind.
I don't see how a guy like David Gray could get played on the radio but Hefner couldn't, not even very much in England either.
[Footnote: Flirting remains one of my favorite films and I'm glad that Thandie Newton is finally a star even in America -- even if that stardom comes at the expense of doing crap like Mission Impossible 2 and Norbit.]